31 August 2009

First day of preschool, year II

Last year, it was all so new and exciting. This year, we were all so ready for preschool to start again. Seriously. Please. Give this child something else to do so I don't have to talk about Star Wars or hear a story about Cow the Washcloth Puppet for FIVE FRICKIN' MINUTES.
Still, I had trouble sleeping last night. Will she make friends in her new classroom? Will she have space to go and calm down if she gets upset? Will her new teacher think we're crazy? Will she sing the Addam's Family song on the first day of school? If so, would that be good or bad for her social life?
Look at this almost 4 year-old girl. She's not a baby anymore. She's a kid proper, with a backpack that won't fit her next year, a glow-in-the-dark sweatshirt, and a silly confidence about her that is both darling and disarming.
I hope she has a fabulous day, and can hardly wait to hear the stories she'll tell us. Provided there're very few cows or Star Wars characters involved. Of course.

29 August 2009

Name that fungi

Remember last year's Mushroom Post? Yeah, me too. Wasn't that fun? It's made me want to take pictures of all kinds of fungeses. So far, though, they've been smaller and therefore harder to get underneath than last year. Even so, I have found about a dozen different kinds (or different looking) of mushrooms already this late summer. What do you know about mushrooms? Which ones can I eat? Which ones should I feed to my nemesis? Which ones should I sell on the black market? I know I could look this up on Wikipedia or some such thing, but I don't trust them. I trust you guys. What say you, fussy britches?
#1: Wee pine needle umbrella.

#2 Puffy roasted marshmallow-looking ones.

#3. This one wants to touch the sky. But it's only about 1/2 an inch tall.

#4. Sprawling kettle-cooked potato chip looking mushrooms.

#5. I can never find the gnomes that I KNOW live by these ones.
#6. These strike me as a higher-class mushroom than I'm accustomed to.
#7. Some craggier, less hoity-toity mushrooms than those pictured in #6.
#8. This may be the prettiest mushroom I've ever seen. I may need to get a tattoo of this one on my elbow. Your thoughts?

Birthday girl

The first time I met Crystal, I was 9 1/2 months pregnant, and it was the first day of faculty inservice at my new job. She was wearing one of my favorite t-shirts, and I thought she was probably too cool to be my friend.
I was wrong. I mean, she is very cool, but she's become a dear friend these last 4 year. Our office cubes faced each other until this semester, so we were practically roomates at work. Out of seven full time faculty in our department, we're the two with MFAs. We went to the same graduate school; we both have one younger sister. She's in a band and is, I think, even more optimistic than I am about teaching and the world. Aside from the fact that my job lets me discuss topics I'm passionate about all day long, it also brought me together with some fantastic people. Through Crystal, I met Todd, above.
And Nancy, whom V calls "Mancy." (I've got a similar shot of Nance holding V when V wasn't even a year old yet...I should find that)Shari, whose new office is next to mine, and whose music I can hear wafting in through the open ceiling. It makes me happy to be her neighbor. K.C., who should consider unclehood as a profession.
(I've got photos of Sue, Joyce, and Fej, too, but I should get permission before I expose them to my immense blog readership.)
I miss my old friends who've moved away all the time. But I feel so, so blessed by my new friends.
Happy birthday, Crystal Rae.

28 August 2009

End of summer

ca. 1976ca. 1979
ca. 1998
Anyone know where we can find a good sunflower field in which to stick our kids and take pictures? Jess and I may be getting too old for this.

24 August 2009

Big Girl Haircut

She goes back to preschool in a week. She doesn't like having her hair brushed, and when we're on a morning schedule, it's just painful for everyone. So we walked into a discount hair salon a few days ago and cut off a bunch of her hair. When I tell people this before they've seen her new look, they tend to gasp a little bit: before the haircut, she looked like a toddler with more hair than most grown ups. A wee Cousin Itt, if you will.
But when they see her? It's all good. And if she decides she doesn't like it? It'll grow out soon enough. But for now, she is an adorable big little girl, if I do say so myself.

23 August 2009

Some posts just can't be titled effectively.

I have a link to share with you. But first, I have to tell you a story. Don't worry; unlike most of my stories, it doesn't have a horrible ending or wind up with me begging you for something.

It was 1994. I'd turned 21 a month or so earlier, and my sometimes-sweetheart was a college student in Moorhead. So we went to Ralph's Corner Bar, a Moorhead institution, where grizzled locals and college students alike shared cheap beer and greasy burgers. I liked the bar: it was old, and grungy, and my mom had maybe gone to it when she was in college. Live music played in the back room, and years later I'd see bands with names like Diesel Jenny play there.

This was only my second time in a real bar (my first was in Morris, where I turned 21), and it was different than just a college bar. It was older, and dirtier, and felt more grown up. Plus they had black leather booths, cracked with age and smoke, that made me think of movies like The Untouchables. It was the kind of place that, when you walked in, a good dozen people turned to see who you were. Like the gas station in my hometown, but with the smell of stale beer.

After our first pitcher, I excused myself to the ladies' room. It was one of those single-room ones, with a thin wood veneer door and push button lock. As I dropped my Levis and turned to sit, I saw a sign on the back of the bathroom door. It was one of those black and orange signs you can buy at K-Mart that say "Garage Sale" or "Beware of Dog," but this one was blank in the middle, and someone had scrawled in black Sharpie:

No Drugs
in Your 'Gina.
I am a simple, inexperienced woman in many ways. I grew up in a town of 300 people, and I swear no one I knew had ever even THOUGHT of what this sign was reminding me not to do.
We left after that one beer, and though I went back in later years, I never saw the sign again. This was long before digital cameras, but man, I wish I had a photo of that sign. Who put it up? Was it a joke? Did someone really need to be reminded? As if someone might forget and oopsie! There's drugs in my 'gina again.
Anyway, I told you all this to show you this, an article about the new business in that old space. I'm not a believer in this kind of thing, honest. But if any place in the world might need cleansing, I can vouch that it's that bathroom.

19 August 2009

V loves IKEA

We went to the big Cities this weekend, and saw about 1/4 of our dearest friends in what turned out to be a bit of a Saturday-Sunday marathon. We saw the Gem*elke-Lees, the Spo*hrs, some Smiths, the S*undse*ths, the P*atricks, Uncle Steve, another S*und*seth, and IKEA. I have a handful of photos to share from the Pat*rick/Sund*seth visit, but they will have to wait. I mean, lookit that first picture. V's doing her "I'm so excited to be at IKEA!" dance. V and Shauners visit about our big trip.V finds Swedish Snoopy adorable (what would my Grandpa Art say? Besides uff da or ... valsinga gud...or...dang, I don't know much Swedish) V loved this area the best: "Daddy, it's all for kids!" she said excitedly, just before her nap.

Overall, we had a lovely time. And those of you we didn't see, we'll catch you the next time around. After we've recovered a bit. If you'd meet us in the kids' section of IKEA, that would probably help, too.

Oh, and also, yes, I made V's clothes in these pictures, and yes, that shirt covers her belly, if she's not dancing around or being a doofus. Which is pretty rare, come to think of it.

12 August 2009

Flowers for Myra

My mama's off on vacation, on a car trip to New York State with her dear dear friends. She'll be gone two whole weeks, and we already miss her. When my parents got married, my dad was already 40, so they wanted to hurry up and have children (my mom was only 27). They planned to travel together once we were grown, and they had retired. Besides, at 40, my dad had traveled throughout the US, and served in the Navy, building swimming pools in Cuba and Morocco. Anytime my mom said she'd like to go someplace, he'd say, "I've been there! Let me tell you about it instead."
15 1/2 years later, he had a stroke, and we were still far from grown up. Not only did they never get to travel together, but he couldn't even tell her about all the places he'd been anymore, because of aphasia.
Four years after the stroke, she took a trip to Lake Tahoe for work, and she came home so, so happy. Travel suited her, and she'd finally seen what she'd been missing.
When he died in 2002, travelling kept her busy, and though her friends and family teased her (because seriously, she was going all the time!) we were glad she could go. She's been to Alaska, California, Oregon, New York, and everywhere in between.

I hope this trip is at least as fun as the others have been, and I look forward to seeing her when she gets home, all aglow from adventure, good company, and many miles there and back.

flowers are all from Myra's garden, as photographed by her. I'm not weeding the flowerbeds while she's gone, either. Correction: As my sister pointed out in the comments, some of the flowers are in Jess' garden. Sheesh. All these territorial gardeners.

08 August 2009

Rainy Day

Today was thick with humidity until it finally rained around 4: that kind of rain that we're just glad finally came, because we knew it was coming all day.

So what to do with an almost 4-year-old who only wants to watch Spongebob and tell made up stories called "Our family, the Addams Family, the Star Wars Family, and KISS all go to Las Vegas" (you think I'm exaggerating, don't you?)

When I couldn't take either of those things anymore, I broke out this set of Melissa and Doug Dough Play toys we got at Saver's a few weeks ago for $2.99, still in the box. (I know the photos leave a lot to be desired. It's a rainy day, people. What did you expect?)
Then, because I solicited information from you guys a few posts ago and got suggestions and even a bona-fide recipe via e-mail (thanks, Donna!), I decided to make our own dough. I had to empty salt shakers I'd forgotten we had, and didn't think to take pictures during the cooking phase, but here's our finished project. It's from a recipe pretty similar to the first one here. It's really smooth and kind of sproingy, and especially fun when it's still warm. Look at the anticipation in her face:And there's not a talking sponge or Millenium Falcon in sight.We rolled, and pulled, and squished, and laughed. It made the whole day so much brighter.
C'mon over on your next rainy day, and we can all play together.

07 August 2009

Cute shoes

I've slowly gotten away from full-on school shopping. I mean, I'm a grown woman, for pete's sake. It's not like seventh grade, when I grew three inches in the summer and got all curvy all of a sudden. Was there anything better than that thick, back-to-school issue of Seventeen in August? All those ads for Bonne Bell and plaid skirts...

But I digress. My point is, it's not like I need any new clothes. But shoes? I'm a walking cliche of a woman when it comes to shoes. And I'm a total nerdy, old-lady-shoe-loving teacher person. I'm not even ashamed. I'm 36: good arch support matters to me more than anything.

I taught all summer, so I rewarded myself with some new shoes. Here's the first pair, a pair of Earth shoes from Seirra Trading Post.

Arent they perfect? Earth shoes' main selling point is they have a lower heel than toe, which means when I wear them, it makes me feel like I'm about to tip over backwards. I assume this gets better. Besides, they are supposed to be all good for my posture, too, and help strengthen my calves or bicuspids or something.

I need shoes that can go with skirts or dress pants, that are comfortable for 6 hours on my feet, pacing back and forth in front of bored students. These are my first Earth shoes, and I adore how they look. My past favorites include Dansko and Ecco. I'm allowing myself two more new pairs of shoes: dear readers, do you have any suggestions?

06 August 2009


V and I got to the playground today, and she took off running toward her cousin, yelling, "There's my best friend Will!"

There's nothing better than a warm August morning with the whole family, swingin'.

04 August 2009


It was hot, damn hot. Luckily, I remembered I bought a pool at KMart on clearance last fall. It was $8.It took forever to fill with just 4" of water. But that was all V needed. The pool didn't stand up too well with just 4" of water, but V didn't mind. She likes to pretend to be a mermaid, but she doesn't like to get her face wet. As you might imagine, that complicates things.Still, mermaids have lovely wet hair. Now, some mermaids lean back and get their hair wet from that direction. Some less brave, less innovative mermaids.Not V though. She's a front-facing mermaid, and managed to do this without initially putting her face in the water. Of course, it's hard to keep one's face dry when one dips one's bangs in the pool.
But real mermaids get over it quickly. There's $8 worth of pool to enjoy, after all.

02 August 2009

Like aunt, like nephew

What is it about tractor tires that inspire photographs with children? Is it their appealing roundness? The implied work ethic? Is it to prove that yes, indeed, we're farming people, and we're proud? I know Will loves all things related to vehicles, particularly large vehicles. Here he is, age almost-four, at Harrington's farm this summer. The look on his face is, I believe, barely contained joy, and a barely contained desire to run around the farm as fast as he can.And here I am, around 15 months, late summer/early fall 1974. Jess probably wasn't born yet. It looks like I'm just propped up against the tire, ready to take off toddling across the field as fast as I can.

We are simple people. It takes so little to make us happy. A big tire and space to run? That's all we need.